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Shares of Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) hit a fresh two-year high yesterday.
One has to go all the way back to the summer of 2008 -- just as Sirius and XM were consummating their oft-delayed merger -- to find the last time the stock was trading this high.
Bulls will argue that the satellite radio provider has earned every uptick. The combination of the two capital-intensive enterprises opened the door to the no-brainer synergies resulting in today's profitable media giant. Rebounds in both the economy and new car sales have delivered six consecutive quarters of sequential subscriber growth.
Bears, on the other hand, are probably scratching their heads. Why did Sirius XM shares hit a new intraday high yesterday? After two years of heady gains, the start of the new trading year would have been a logical time for tax-geared profit taking. The only real news on the day was a deal to begin broadcasting Manchester United games, but is international soccer really much of a radio draw closer to home? Did anyone catch last year's World Cup action on radio?
Once again, bears would be missing the point.
For starters, the soccer deal isn't all that insignificant given the global popularity of Manchester's club. In a telling move, the deal also includes mobile streaming -- something that may a bigger driver in 2011 now that even Howard Stern is on board.
Mobile streaming for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone and iPod touch, Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry, and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android devices may be a hard sell as a stand-alone service at $13 a month, but it's a justifiable $2.99-a-month add-on for existing subscribers with receivers. It's a small price to pay for the ability to make Sirius or XM truly portable for the growing installed base of smartphone owners without having to buy a handheld unit.
Last week I predicted that Sirius XM will deliver its third consecutive year of stock gains, so I don't think this will be the last time the satellite radio star hits a fresh multiyear high. After all, how many more Manchester United-type deals will we get in the year ahead? A single deal may not move the needle, but securing premium niche-specific content adds up over time in sticky subscribers.
Sirius XM remains at the mercy of both the economy and the auto industry, but it's a fair wager that those two fronts will be stronger by the end of the year.
Sirius XM has its goals, and they go beyond what a Manchester striker just smacked past the goalie.
What content deal would you like to see Sirius XM ink next? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.